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Okay, you have this InDesign CS5 file, but you need to send it to someone else who only has InDesign CS4. And unfortunately, you can look all you want in the Save As dialog box, but there's no Save As CS4 feature. What will you do? Well, the answer is not choose Save As, but choose Export. And in the Export dialog box, choose from the Format pop-up menu, InDesign Markup. That's IDML. Now, you may have heard of something in InDesign called an INX file.
But in InDesign CS5, IDML completely replaces INX. So wherever you've ever heard of INX, just put IDML in your brain now. So what is IDML? Well, it's a way to represent your entire file in sort of a set of XML files. You don't need to know the technical stuff, but it's technically a bunch of XML files that represent your file that you can then hand to an InDesign CS4 user. They can open the IDML file and it rebuilds the document in InDesign CS4. It's pretty clever. Now, of course, not all the features come along for the ride.
Any of your new InDesign CS5 features are stripped out when you open it in InDesign CS4. And there's another problem. This IDML file cannot be opened in InDesign CS3. Only InDesign CS4. So if you need to get something back to InDesign CS3, you'd have to save it out as IDML from CS5, open it into InDesign CS4, and then save out another IDML file, or in that case maybe an INX file, out of InDesign CS4, and open that file in InDesign CS3. Each of these will only go back one version.
Now, as it turns out, this IDML file is useful for other things as well, not just back saving. For example, every now and again I find a document that just acts a little strangely. Maybe a color shows up in the Swatches panel that you can't delete or maybe the pasteboard around the page gets really huge. Just some kind of weirdness that you can't explain. And often the easiest solution to this is to export the file to IDML and then open it back up again. Yes, you can actually open your IDML back up in CS5. It's not just for down saving to CS4.
Here let me show you. I'll save this out to my Desktop as an IDML file and now I'll go to the File > Open dialog box and simply grab that IDML file and open it. Now, it's going to open this document as an Untitled Document. It literally rebuilt the document from scratch, based on the instructions in that IDML file. But it seems to clear out any kind of garbage that might have snuck in along the way. Now, it's rare that you need to do this, but I'm telling you, it can really get you out of some weird jams.
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